Word from the East

Who are we celebrating this Christmas? God or Mammon?

seast-310x353The Gospel on the Sunday of Nativity

Luke 2:15-20 New International Version (NIV)

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

* * *

The Gospel on Jesus’ nativity confirms the general consensus among theologians that the Messiah has a preference for the poor, deprived and the oppressed, and that his birth is a celebration of humility. Despite being the King of Kings of us all, the Messiah, according to historical archaeologists and biblical scholars, was born in what today is essentially a simple garage. It is a symbol on how important humility is on our Faith which was further emphasized by the fact that Jesus, at the time of his birth, was surrounded by domesticated animals and that his first visitors were the lowly shepherds. It is very clear in these opening acts of Jesus’ arrival in the world that humility is the foundation of our Faith. Thus Christmas, aside from being a celebration of Jesus’ nativity, can also be correctly commemorated as the Feast of the Humble or a Celebration of Humility.

In his annual pre-Christmas greeting in Rome recently, Pope Francis beautifully described Christmas “as the feast of ‘the loving humility of God’ that upends human logic. ” At the same time, he also recalled that “God chose to be born small, because he wished to be loved,” and by being small, fragile, weak, “no one would be ashamed of approaching him, no one would fear him.”

Pope Francis perfectly explains that this divine logic scuttles “the worldly logic, the logic of power, of command, the pharisaic, the chance or deterministic logic….”

It would be difficult for us to appreciate God had he chosen his begotten son to be born in a palace surrounded by armed guards. Our experience tells us that ordinary people like the ones that Jesus identified himself with are shooed away by the trappings of power and wealth. There is no question that power and wealth create invisible walls that separates the privileged from those who are dis-empowered by the ones in power. Possession of power and wealth is what divides and unjustly classify people into so many things.

There is no question that the Holy Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, is replete with instances and stories where the humble is lifted while the proud and mighty were brought down by the Lord. No matter what the numerous prophets and apologists of wealth or mammon say, it is clear from all the anecdotes, stories and eyewitness accounts in the Bible that God despises those who are obsessed with power and might while he is always in solidarity with the humble and weak. It is they — the poor, deprived and the oppressed — who are lifted and made qualified to inherit God’s Kingdom here on Earth (Matt. 5:3-5)

Does this mean God is against prosperity or the world? No. Prosperity, however, should not be hoarded as the practice of so many today. Prosperity should be tempered by Faith, Hope and Love (Charity). God is not against the world. In fact, God so love the world that he sent his begotten Son to be with us (John 3:16), to live among us so that we may we may be redeemed and have eternal life. That is more than what prosperity could bring in our lives.

What God is telling us, if we only care to listen and truly try to understand, is that the upright or just (Faithful) will inherit God’s Kingdom and be its co-rulers with Christ (2Timothy 2:12). It must be emphasized, however, that the Bible is clear,  we are only sharing God’s kingdom here on Earth as co-rulers not as its owners. We cannot own that which will own our body sooner or later. From these numerous premises that I cited, there is no more doubt that the pursuit of power and wealth is anathema to our quest for salvation.

Christmas or Jesus’ humble birth is a challenge to all of us. In rising up to this challenge, let us ask ourselves, who are we really celebrating this Christmas? God or Mammon?

Nelson Flores, J.D., MSCK
A former reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Standard Today, and a regular columnist of the Metro Manila based daily tabloid newspaper Hataw; Nelson Flores is also the former Senior Associate Editor of the Houston based Fil-Am Press and former anchor of dzXL and dzRJ's weekend talk show Usaping Bayan. Mr. Flores has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Law degrees from the University of Santo Tomas and Adamson University and a holder of a study certificate from the Diocesan House of Studies, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). He is a Freemason and member of Reagan Lodge 1037 in Houston Heights under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas and a member of the Missionary Society of Christ the King (MSCK).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.